How to save an overwatered plant

How to save an overwatered plant

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An overwatered plant can show a lot of different symptoms, such as wilted, drooping and yellowing leaves.

Overwatered plant


  • Remove all yellow, brown or loose leaves

  • Remove any visible water

  • Give your plant some partial shade if it’s placed in direct sunlight


  • Remove the plant from the pot

  • Carefully squeeze out water from the soil

  • Place your plant on paper or a towel and let it dry for a while before putting the plant back into the pot

  • If you like, you can also remove all the wet soil and repot it with new, healthy soil

  • Before watering again, check that the soil isn't wet and water a bit less each time in the future

  • Pause the fertilizing for a while so that the roots can recover


TOO MUCH WATER AT ONCE Plants need oxygen as much as they need water, and when you overwater, especially in compacted or clay soils, the soil becomes waterlogged.  Two types of overwatering include too often and too much at once:

Too often Watering too frequently is a different kind of overwatering.  In this scenario, frequent shallow watering will encourage roots to remain near the soil surface where they are subject to heat and rapid drying out. Giving water too often can also lead to the soil never really drying up, which can be important for some plants that are not used to having constant supplies of water - like succulents for example.

Too much at once Waterlogged soil is something that happens when the soil is too dense and lacks good drainage - or if you have potted your plant in a container without holes. In waterlogged soil, water totally fills the pore spaces around soil particles which should have an equal amount of oxygen.  In this situation, roots and root hairs responsible for the plant’s growth cannot absorb the oxygen they need and can die. The more water there is, the longer the roots are deprived of air and the more root damage may occur. When these roots die or are damaged, they cannot supply plants with essential nutrients and water, growth is stunted, leaves wilt and turn yellow from leaf scorch or leaf burn, buds fail to open, and plants can die.

Edema Edema is another result from overwatering or uneven watering. Edema occurs when a plant’s roots absorb water faster than the plant can use it and its internal cells experience water pressure. This often occurs after a routine of watering in the evening, just before a significant drop in temperature or if the plant has dried out a bit too much before being heavily watered. These cells can burst and die, then form plant “blisters.” Eventually the blisters erupt and ugly growths form in their place.

Fungus When you overwater your plants, you are also putting them at risk of fungal pathogens which can lead to root rot and other issues. The plant’s colors dull and turn yellow, then become soft and break easily. As the roots decay from rot, the plant will eventually die.


This is a tricky one - since a plant can show similiar symptoms with both of these issues, including wilting, curling and yellowing leaves. The difference is how the leaves look and feel:

With an underwatered plant, the soil is dry all the way through, with slowly drooping leaves.

For an overwatered plant, many leaves deteriorate fast, become yellow and might fall off. The soil may be wet deep down in the pot - so you could try to stick your finger down into the soil and check the moisture level or check via the drainage holes. You can also check the roots, to see if they feel slimy or soft. Additionally, the soil may sometimes smell somewhat sour. - If your plant is placed in an outer pot, make sure that it isn't sitting to tight against the nursery pot. This can actually close of the air circulation and cause root rot.

tight white pot soil mold